People who purchased Eclipse 2017 glasses on Amazon are getting refunds, thanks to unscrupulous retailers selling unsafe and unreliable knockoffs that could potentially cause eye damage.
As the Verge reports, not just any shaded product will do for watching the August 21 eclipse (or any eclipse, for that matter). You need certified ISO 12312-2:2015 glasses: which is to day, glasses that meet international standards for safely observing the sun. Looking at the sun, even during an eclipse, with anything less can (and almost certainly will) lead to permanent eye damage, up to and including blindness.
In other words, you cannot afford to risk damage to your eyes by watching the eclipse with cheap knockoffs.
Therein lies the problem: unscrupulous manufacturers, particularly those out of reach of international copyright and consumer protection standards, have been claiming that the eclipse glasses they’ve been selling are safe. Some have even printed claims on their websites, and on the glasses themselves, that they meet the standards when they don’t.
Richard Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), tells Business Insider that the practice is not only despicable, but puts consumer safety at risk.
“It’s a bunch of unscrupulous people cashing in on the eclipse and putting public safety at risk.”
— Marc Zwygart (@mediaadvantages) August 14, 2017
Fortunately, if you purchased your eclipse glasses on Amazon, you’re in luck. The retailer is offering refunds to customers who may have purchased counterfeit eclipse glasses through the retail giant.
One manufacturer suspected of selling fake “eclipse-safe” glasses is MASCOTKING, which had been offering “Solar Eclipse Glasses 2017 – CE and ISO Certified Safe Shades for Direct Sun Viewing — Eye Protection.” If your glasses came from that particular manufacturer, throw them out now and get a refund (you don’t need to return them in order to get your money back).
— Jon Urbana (@jonurbana1) August 14, 2017
Amazon has pulled the MASCOTKING and other eclipse glasses from the website.
If you ordered your eclipse glasses from Amazon, you may want to consider getting a refund and purchasing your glasses from a brick-and-mortar store, unless you are absolutely, unambiguously certain that you purchases them from a reputable manufacturer.
While most consumers are probably only out a dollar or so from purchasing fake eclipse glasses, a college in Nebraska is feeling the pain even more: Peru State College, which is in the path of totality, purchased 7,500 pairs. Unfortunately, it turns out that they were from a disreputable manufacturer, and the glasses could have put the eyesight of thousands of students at risk. Fortunately, they’ve ordered replacements from a reputable manufacturer.
So how can you tell if the eclipse glasses you purchased are fake? One way is to try them on inside; if you can see anything at all, including the light from a regular indoor lamp, they’re not safe and you need to throw them out. Failing that, you can compare the name of the manufacturer of your glasses to this AAS-approved list of reputable manufacturers.
Of course, with the eclipse a week away (as of this writing), it’s almost certainly too late to order your glasses online. Fortunately, several brick-and-mortar retailers are more than happy to help you out, particularly if you’re in the path of totality. According to KIVI-TV, you can purchase NASA-approved eclipse-safe glasses at Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Toys R Us, among other retailers.
[Featured Image by Aaron Favila/AP]